When universities in Japan announced a month ago that they would be abolishing the humanities and social sciences faculties, I was not sure I understood it. Eliminate the arts from education–say what?
According to this article from AsiaOne,
“Japanese universities are being forced to review their organisations from the ground up, due to the declining birthrate and severe international competition among universities.
Compared with the creation of new industries and technological innovations that stem from science and technology studies, it is difficult for humanities and social science studies to demonstrate tangible accomplishments.”
I’m sure there is more than meets the eye.
Two days ago, Bloomberg published an opinion piece by Noah Smith covering this bit of news.
The headline read: Japan Dumbs Down Its Universities.
I couldn’t agree more. The headline is apt.
Aside from commenting on economic productivity and policy making, the author also made this important point on political discussion.
There may or may not be political reasons for the change. Japan’s humanities departments, like those in the U.S., lean heavily to the political left, and Japan’s conservative administration is in the process of reorienting security policy. More darkly, the change might be part of a wider attempt by social conservatives — Abe’s main power bloc — to move the country in a more illiberal direction by stifling dissent and discussion.
Is this what it is really about? A fear of the intellectual and a struggle to remain in power?